Tuesday, December 22, 2009

why not permanent housing?

It must be near the top complaint of parents and individuals with mental illness in the state-assisted so-called treatment apartments that the state considers these apartments only temporary for that tenant. Why can't the state people accept reality that our relatives don't want to be told they must move within three years or less once they've been placed in a decent, suitable apartment, where they meet friends and get used to transportation routines and feel safe and familiar in it. For years NAMI members have banged the door of the state poobahs in Albany and exhorted policy makers to change the policy that declares these licensed congregate care units (there are several thousand statewide) non-permanent housing. Anyone who has ever been forced from their home knows the anguish it causes to be told to move. Our not for profit housing providers in Schenectady have shown good sense while observing state policy. They've often recognized that a person's needs come first rather than slavishly observing a poor policy that doesn't always fit. So they let some tenants stay on many years in a licensed unit. We were told years ago by a manager for Mohawk Opportunities that they won't move out someone who has greater need for that level of supervision (case manager visits, for example) than if he or she were placed in supported housing. They work this out with the tenant who has leeway to stay on if satisfied where he or she is. The state Office of Mental Health, meanwhile, seems to have a policy it knows doesn't always work, agreeing people should be moved out only if they've gained skills while in the treatment apartments to live more independently. And if they haven't advanced, at least upstate, they can stay on. We hope the good sense prevails, that people still in need of supervision won't be forced to move from assisted housing and the state will add to its housing inventory to solve the bigger problem. (Roy Neville)

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